Jennifer Watling

Jennifer Watling

By looking at fossilised plant remains in the Amazon rainforest, Jennifer Watling hopes to answer questions about how ‘man made’ the Amazon is and how humans have affected current biodiversity. Her research led to Jennifer winning the prestigious UK Scopus Young Researcher Award 2013, recognition that she describes as her proudest moment to date.

The research involves extracting sediments from archaeological sites in the Brazilian state of Acre which has over 400 big earth work sites of perfectly formed geometrical shapes known as geoglyphs. Jennifer is the first person to look at the environmental history of the geoglyph sites, a factor in her winning the coveted prize.

Jennifer, a PhD student from the College of Humanities said: “Winning the Young Researcher Award in the category of Arts and Humanities is definitely my proudest moment. To have my work recognised on this level is a great honour and it has provided a valuable kick-start to my career.”

Jennifer said that main theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, inspiring change, should motivate women to have the confidence to achieve their potential. She said: “International Women’s Day is about inspiring women to have the confidence to push for whatever it is they want to achieve in life. I believe that society still makes this harder for women than for men, and that confidence in women is a big step towards absolute gender equality. For me, my colleagues are my greatest source of inspiration. Most of my work is inter-disciplinary and I am lucky enough to be part of a network of enthusiastic people, many of them women, with whom I can discuss my work and share new ideas.

Although some of her happiest times are spent in the rainforest for her research, away from work Jennifer finds joy in spending time with her family and friends and listening to and playing music. With this in mind, she offers a very resolute piece of advice to help others succeed. She said: “It may be a slight cliché, but my advice is not to give up on the things that are important to you. I think that if you work hard enough at something, you will get it.